“Satyagraha and Reconciliation” by Sharon Tan, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities

This paper compares elements from the Christian notion of reconciliation and Gandhi’s notion of satyagraha. Both Gandhi’s work toward liberation and self-rule, moksha and swaraj respectively, and reconciliation, or forgiveness and renewed relationship, work against oppression and injustice and toward bringing about the conflict transformation and the desired state of relationships. Both assume a moral agency of the victim and impose a moral duty on the victim. There are also differences, notably as to the possible use of violence: nonviolent action is the basis of satyagraha, but there is no absolute prohibition of physical force or coercion in reconciliation.

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4 Responses to ““Satyagraha and Reconciliation” by Sharon Tan, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities”

  1. Josh Stanton says:

    Sometimes I doubt that all victims can actually attain moral agency. Aren’t there cases in which the victims are entirely helpless?

    • Sharon Tan says:

      Thanks for the questions, Josh. There may be times a victim is entirely helpless as to the event happening, or the victimization, but this does not deprive her or him of moral agency regarding how they view the event and what they do about it later, e.g. in forgiveness, self-protection, empowerment and working toward justice for others, etc.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well done Sharon Tan!!. I thoroughly appreciated the concise and accurate definitions. I am struggling to define Satyagraha in terms of theological debate. Is it possible to forgive someone after you are gone?

    • Sharon Tan says:

      Do you mean after they are gone? Forgiveness is such a tricky thing — I think it is so delicate and fragile. Some say it is an act of will — I think it is a virtue, that we practice daily, with varying degrees of success.

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